Category Archives: Uncategorised

HS2: A rail too far?

Regional inequality is one of the perennial political questions. It is up there with tax avoidance as something where everyone agrees that something must change, but no one can quite agree what. A classic example is the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, a nebulous term giving the highly misleading impression that something was happening when in reality it was invented purely to try and woo Northern voters

One of the few initiatives to try and deliver some actual change is HS2. This theoretically has the potential to increase the mobility of the workforce causing all manner of positive spill-over effects leading to a new age of economic growth up and down the country.

Already, however, the programme has run into all the cliché problems of a large government-spending project: late[1], both needlessly expensive compared to similar tracks around the world[2] and over-budget[3], and a massive pain in the proverbial for anyone vaguely near it (which is everyone).

To some extent, I can live with all of this.  Good things are often expensive and complex and just because something is inconvenient does not mean that we should not do it, provided it adds real value, both to the country and the communities that it services. The trouble is, it doesn’t, at all.

Now, I am not doubting that we do need to improve our current ageing transport network. But why on earth are we investing in technology that the rest of the world has had for decades? Surely if the point is to drive growth and innovation we should be investing in the next generation of technology. This better late than never mindset is damaging for this country. Japan is making massive leaps forward in the development of mag-lev technology, and there is no reason why we can’t too. This would give us a real competitive advantage over the world, something especially important as we move into the forthcoming BREXIT age.

There is also another, more fundamental criticism of the project.  If the design is to promote growth in the regions, why does the line go to London? Surely if we want to promote growth in the north we should focus on local infrastructure improvements, enabling local businesses to thrive.  The London centric plan gives the impression that growth only comes from the capital and that this must be where the growth takes place. Not only is that patronising in the extreme to everyone not in London, but it also risks a widening of regional inequality.  Cutting the time to get to London will simply lead to a further brain drain from the regions making it increasingly hard for novel, market-beating companies to be born. All it will achieve is to extend the London commuter belt, driving up house prices and placing pressure on local infrastructure.

A far better solution is to focus on connecting the great northern and midlands cities. There is no reason that Manchester or Newcastle cannot be the drivers of growth in the UK and we must encourage that, not drain them of their brightest talent.

 

 

 

 

[1] Ames, C. (2016) ‘HS2 running behind schedule and over budget, NAO warns’ Accessed: 16 December 2017. Available at: https://www.transport-network.co.uk/HS2-running-behind-schedule-and-over-budget-NAO-warns/13003

[2] Williams M. (2017)  ‘FactCheck Q&A: How does HS2 compare to other bullet trains?’ Accessed: 16 December 2017. Available at: https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-qa-how-does-hs2-compare-to-other-bullet-trains

[3] Handley, L. (2017) ‘what is HS2 and how much will it cost?’ Accessed: 18 December 2017 Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2017/apr/28/what-is-hs2-and-how-much-will-it-cost

Assessing President Trump’s next move on North Korea

“I would let Pyongyang know in no uncertain terms that it can either get out of the nuclear arms race or expect a rebuke”.[1]  These words, spoken by Donald Trump in 2000, seem to have become the guiding tenet of his foreign policy towards North Korea; yet the scale and final nature of such a rebuke remains to be seen.

President Trump’s shaky relationship with his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has called into question the consistency of U.S. diplomatic efforts. Trump’s hardline approach has seemed to compromise and undermine the avenues of diplomacy, making very hard work for the State Department. Yet recent rumours of the Secretary’s imminent removal have been brushed aside and Tillerson’s latest overtures suggest that the U.S. approach could now be becoming more united.  Speaking at the UN Headquarters in New York, Tillerson omitted a line on U.S. openness to talks “without pre-conditions”[2] as well as directly rebutting the North Korean representative[3]; far from the traditional role of the Secretary of State.

So, is diplomacy off the table? With the U.S. apparently holding back and North Korea not being visibly receptive or amenable to talks in the current climate; China is brought into the diplomatic equation, but really only as an extension of Trump’s display of force. America is currently exploring the potential of secondary sanctions, i.e. going after Chinese companies doing business with North Korea[4]; a very direct and bold way of forcing China to intervene. A direct and ‘no-nonsense’ approach to dealing with North Korea has been Trump’s mantra since the election and recent events have only seemed to confirm this. So what explains this approach and perhaps more importantly, if talking has finished, will his rhetoric be converted to action?

Perhaps two historical examples can shed some light on Trump’s grandstanding. In 1968, North Korea seized the U.S. Navy ship Pueblo which led to a prolonged hostage situation and a perceived humiliation when the American president apologised to the North Koreans.[5] This idea of weakness and preventing such vulnerability was very prevalent in President Gerald Ford’s foreign policy, especially when North Korean troops murdered two U.S. Army officers in 1976. Ford ordered a U.S. infantry company, helicopters and B-52 bombers towards the demilitarised zone in Korea[6]; a bold stroke that seemingly diffused a larger conflict.

These examples plucked from the turbulent history of relations between these two countries perhaps reveal the importance of political posturing and grandstanding. If Ford’s actions were on the news today, we’d surely all be anxiously watching intently the hands of the doomsday clock. Yet, the show of force, not its execution was what provoked the required response in 1976. Therefore, rather than viewing Trump’s belligerent stance as a manifestation of his personality, perhaps we should look beyond that and delve into the patterns of past presidential behaviour. As we await the long-talked about rebuke, perhaps current U.S. bravado and escalation can in fact be perceived as the end in itself, a clear and unmistakable message for North Korea. Will President Trump’s direct and forceful approach provide the desired response this time around….time will tell.

[1] “Trump on the Issues”. www.cfr.org https://www.cfr.org/interactives/campaign2016/donald-trump/on-north-korea [Accessed 17 December 2017]

[2] Borger, J. “Rex Tillerson scales back offer of opening dialogue with North Korea”. www.theguardian.com https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/15/rex-tillerson-scales-back-offer-of-opening-dialogue-with-north-korea [Accessed 17 December 2017]

[3] Cohen, Z & Gaouette, N. “Tillerson confronts North Korea at UN” www.edition.cnn.com http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/15/politics/tillerson-un-north-korea/index.html [Accessed 18 December 2017]

[4] Korte, G. “Trump promises new North Korea sanctions after latest missile test” www.usatoday.com https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/29/trump-promises-new-north-korea-sanctions-after-latest-missile-test/904978001/ [Accessed 18 December 2017]

[5] Lerner, M. ‘A Failure of Perception: Lyndon Johnson, North Korean Ideology, and the Pueblo  Incident’. Diplomatic History, 25 (4), (2001), pp. 647‐675.

[6] Reimann, M. “The U.S. and North Korea almost went to war over a single poplar tree in the demilitarised zone”. www.timeline.com https://timeline.com/north-korea-poplar-tree-bcee4d72332f [Accessed 18 December 2017]

All in all, You’re just another brick in the West Bank Wall

Like him or loathe him, Roger Waters has always been a man of passion, his music has always carried a social message. From the dark side of capitalism on “Money”, to criticising the greed and selfishness of the ruling elite in “Pigs (three different ones)”, to singing “Picture a leader with no fucking brains”, a line from his latest album. Why should we be surprised that this man is going to be outspoken? His current tour, the “US + Them” tour features images of President Trump in Warhol-like colours depicting him with lipsticks and breasts, words like “racist”, “sexist” and “ignorant” punctuate the images whilst the song “Pigs (three different ones)” plays.
In recent months both Nick Cave and Radiohead have played concerts in Tel Aviv. These artists received scathing criticism from Mr. Waters, citing that they should respect a cultural boycott of Israel; after all, “this isn’t about music, it’s about human rights.”
In an 2011 Op-Ed piece for The Guardian, Roger Waters discusses his experiences whilst visiting Palestine and how this influenced his decision to support the Boycott, Divesment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. It was in this Op-Ed that Waters stated;
In my view, the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), coupled with its denial of the rights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair-minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Waters asked that his fellow artists to join him in the cultural boycott of Israel. Nick Cave and Radiohead both ignored the call and performed their shows, prompting further criticism and scorn from the veteran rocker.
What followed next however, I feel is unusual. German television and radio stations have pulled out of airing live performances of the “Us + Them” tour when it visits the state next year, citing that the move was made in light of anti-Semitic accusations against Waters.
The question really is, can you criticise the state of Israel without being anti-Semitic? After all, Roger Waters was criticising the government of Israel and their policies, not the people of Israel, nor the Jewish faith.
Given 20th Century history, it might be that these German broadcasters are taking an overly cautious approach. However, if we look at the experiences of everyday Palestinians, the government of Israel becomes a legitimate target of criticism.
The Huffington Post compiled a list of 10 things that the Palestinian people have to endure on a daily basis; on this list there are things such as living under Israeli military presence, not being to control supplies and goods into the territory, not being able to control the water supply and not having access to life saving health care. The reason they don’t have control over these things, the Israeli occupation.
A Palestinian citizen, Alfred Khoury, describes the ordeal of passing through a checkpoint on his daily commute to work.

“It’s so depressing. We feel like animals. But these days not even animals get treated like this. It’s humiliating. Every day I’m here by 4:30am to make sure I’m in my office by 8:30am.”
“We don’t live like human beings” laments 26 year old Firas.

Human rights are essential to any legitimate government. Every government should be held accountable for its actions and therefore open to criticism. Certainly in todays society of digital media and the internet, every government should know that its actions are being recorded and scrutinised. Governments implement policies and sometimes policies are bad.
Of course the situation revolving around Israel and Palestine is complex, its why the problem has not been solved in the past 50 years, nor is it likely to be solved any time soon.
What we need to realise is that criticising a government is not the same as criticising the existence of a state, or ironically, denying a people its homeland.

Misremembering the Balfour Declaration

One hundred years ago on November 2nd, 1917, the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour publicly issued the Balfour Declaration. The short statement read:

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.[1]

Despite its seemingly innocuous and considered tone there are few more controversial documents in modern history. However, it is important to be aware of what preceded the declaration, not just what followed it. There needs to be a correction of the subtle rewriting of history that goes on under the surface when British motivations for the Balfour Declaration are discussed.

Many in Britain still like to offer some congratulatory remarks to the British government’s selfless aims in issuing this declaration. That Britain sought to protect the persecuted Jewish people is seen as a mark of our country’s great compassion. Daniel Hannan’s article ‘Like any parent, Britain should take pride in Israel’ in The Telegraph is an excellent example of a misplaced admiration taken from Britain’s motivations.[2] History tells a rather different story. Whatever humanitarian concerns motivated the Balfour Declaration, they are irrevocably tainted by the British government’s self-interest as a colonial power. If aiding the foundation of a Jewish national home in Palestine had not lined up with the aims of the British Empire in WWI, it is likely that no such promise would have been made.

When Theresa May delivered a speech at the Balfour Centenary Dinner on November 2nd she spoke proudly of the Arthur Balfour’s vision and leadership in seizing the moment to restore a persecuted people to their homeland in the context of Britain’s involvement in WWI.[3] It was suggested by May that Balfour was sensitive to the needs and concerns of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. In reality no such care was taken beyond the words of a declaration these communities had no say in. The Balfour Declaration was irreconcilable with the concerns of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. The historian Ilan Pappé convincingly argues that the native Palestinians were not interested in British imperialism, Zionism, or even emerging nationalism, and yet they were caught in the midst of all three.[4]

Balfour’s vision for a ‘peaceful co-existence’ is a modern invention.[5] By forwarding Zionist aspirations for a Jewish homeland, Balfour knew that this could be used to appeal to powerful Jewish lobbies in America and Russia to aid in the British war effort. While speaking to the war cabinet, Balfour said ‘we should be able to carry on extremely useful propaganda both in Russia and America’ where ‘the vast majority of Jews … appeared to be favourable to Zionism’.[6] It should also be noted that all of these considerations came after the determined Zionist Chaim Weizmann had conducted meetings with Balfour in December 1914 and David Lloyd George in January 1915 to push his agenda forward, securing their support in the process.[7] Before these meetings the Zionist cause had met a disinterested reception in the British government. Rather than genuine sympathy for the Zionist cause, Lloyd George and Balfour were motivated almost entirely by the benefit they believed Zionist support could bring. Palestine was an area of great territorial interest for Britain’s empire in the Middle East, particularly as it served as a buffer zone to protect the Suez Canal. The British government was unhappy with the secretive Sykes-Picot agreement between themselves and the French, which left Palestine as an ill-defined area of international commission. Zionist support allowed the securing of the Palestine Mandate in the post-war settlement that finally satisfied British aims in the region.[8]

When one looks back at the actions of Britain in the twentieth century it is important to not lose sight of the power this country once was. For all that came after the Balfour Declaration – the horrors of the Holocaust or the tragic plight of the Palestinian refugees – It is essential that we do not paint Britain’s past intentions with a rose-tinted brush. There is no attempt here to present Britain as the sole founder of the world’s problems and nor should there be. It is important to look at these matters objectively. However, in so far as we should admire Israel’s role in the Middle East, Britain cannot take pride in it ‘like any parent’ would.[9] What kind of parent can take pride in the achievements of a child whose concerns were merely an afterthought to their own self-interested aims?

[1] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/text-of-the-balfour-declaration

[2] Hannan, D, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/21/like-parent-britain-should-take-pride-israel/

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-at-balfour-centenary-dinner

[4] Pappé, I, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, 2004

[5] Quote from https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-at-balfour-centenary-dinner

[6] Rogan, E, The Arabs: A History, 2009

[7] Schneer, J, The Balfour Declaration, 2011

[8] Rogan, E, The Arabs: A History, 2009

[9] Hannan, D, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/21/like-parent-britain-should-take-pride-israel/

Why the Government should invest more in digital technology

Research highlights that Britain’s ability to cultivate a digital society is dependent on national and local government injecting further investment into digital technology.

Providing digital usage and custom preserves it’s concurrent trajectory in the UK, there will be 156 million ‘internet of things’[1] connections[2]. The UK’s digital economy represents 12.4% of it’s GDP, the largest of any G20 nation, and projected increases in broadband speeds could add £17 billion to it’s economy by 2024[3]. These figures may suggest healthy digital conditions for the UK, however these projected figures are dependent on economical investment relative to technological innovation. This simply is not happening.

The majority of the government’s investment in the digital space market has been in ‘next generation’ substructure, therefore neglecting development and innovation[4]. Meanwhile, international competitors are becoming increasingly ambitious, exemplified by their move to superfast and ultrafast broadband coverage[5]. Consequently, the UK have started to fall behind: ranked 9th out of the 18 countries for 4G outdoor population[6] and 17th out of the 19 countries for access to full fibre connection[7]. Nearly 25% of rural premises in the UK do not have a decent broadband service[8]. Most notably, South Korea has 96% availability for 4G mobile, compared to the UK’s 66%[9].

Many small and medium businesses in the UK have their digital connectivity needs unmet. In 2016, 20% did not have access to broadband speeds of 30 Mbps (‘superfast’) and around 8% were unable to access speeds of 10 megabits per second (Mbps)[10]. The Government made some changes to the Electronic Communications Code to improve the ease of rolling out digital infrastructure in 2016. However, many key infrastructure stakeholders consider that progress too slow and uphold further scope for reform[11].

The underfunding would be less problematic if digital technology was not so significant to the UK’s infrastructure being productive. The UK’s internet usage is the largest off all the G-20 countries[12]. Britain’s businesses, banks and governments use the internet for data storage, connectivity and operation and this has significant implications to UK electric supplies, national rail, roads, bridges and wind turbines[13]. Furthermore, the use of mobile apps and machine learning cannot be underestimated in Britain, their ability to collate real-time data on asset condition and maintenance needs allows for the smooth operation of infrastructure. Significantly, communication networks in the UK has contributed more to Britain’s economic growth and social inclusion than it has in any other European country[14].

Ultimately, modest governmental investment in digital innovation is no longer acceptable. In the past, the UK has had the foresight and ambition to connect everyone to electricity, water and transport networks. The benefits today are obvious. The same ambition is now needed for future digital infrastructure.

A coordinated approach is essential. At present, digital infrastructure decisions are fragmented and entwined with the wider policy interests of numerous Government departments and agencies[15]. Digital investment is often too easily deprioritised, however a digital champion within Government should hold relevant departments and agencies to account and ensure the provision of digital infrastructure programmes.

Likewise, local government needs to be more proactive. Digital communications bring significant benefits to local areas. Local authorities must do more to encourage the deployment of infrastructure. The National Infrastructure Commission suggest facilitating planning permission for the investment of UK needs without long delays, as the current planning process is time consuming and costly.

National and local government must foster world class digital connectivity that is seamless, ubiquitous, reliable and resilient. This will promote leading-edge applications at an early date and can promote innovation in infrastructure systems such as networks of sensors, smart appliances and the combination of vastly improved data and machine learning to promote better infrastructure operation, lower costs and increased efficiency.

[1] The Internet of things is the network of physical devices, vehicles, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

[2] Brown, Eric (13 September 2016). “Who Needs the Internet of Things?”. Linux.com

[3] ibid

[4] Ofcom (2015), Strategic Review of Digital Communications; Ofcom (2016), Making communications work for everyone, initial conclusions from the Strategic Review of Digital Communications

[5] Ibid

[6] Ofcom (2016), The International Communications Market Report; Connected Nations 2016

[7] Ofcom (2016), The International Communications Market Report

[8] National Infrastructure Commission report, Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for national infrastructure, 2017, p.44

[9] OpenSignal (2017), The State of LTE (June 2017). Accessed at: https://opensignal.com/reports/2017/06/state-of-lte

[10] Ofcom (2016), Connected Nations 2016

[11] National Infrastructure Commission report, Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for national infrastructure, 2017, p.53

[12] http://www.consultancy.uk/news/1988/bcguk-internet-economy-the-largest-of-the-g20

[13] National Infrastructure Commission report, Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for national infrastructure, 2017, p.53

[14] Oxfam, 2013; Shy, O. (2010), A Short Survey of Network Economics, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Working Papers.

[15] Ofcom (2015), Strategic Review of Digital Communications

THE PARADISE PAPERS AND THE ROYALS

This month has seen two damning headline stories for the Royal family. The first story concerned the Queen’s offshore investment, as revealed in the Paradise Papers, and the second detailed Prince Charles’ lobbying on political interests. In light of these recent revelations, this article makes the case for the abolishment of the Monarchy. The argument is separated into three points: the principled point, the political point and the economic point.

The principled point

The principled point against the Monarchy is the most compelling: it is out of line with progressive and liberal values to retain an unelected Head of State, appointed by virtue of birth status. Additionally, the excessive wealth of the Royals is – at its mildest – distasteful. Should we really accept a state of affairs where the Queen is preaching about austerity in the House of Commons, whilst draped in an excess of jewels? Is it fair that whilst there are cuts for the public sector, the Royal family get a pay rise of millions of pounds?[1]

Moreover, issue can be taken with the idea that the Crown should be retained as it is “traditional” and represents the country. Firstly, it is no argument to retain something because it is “traditional”, without further exploring the merits of this tradition. Secondly, on the point about the symbolic significance of the Royals, we should think deeper about what the Crown represents. The Royal honours take the titles of, for instance, “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” or “Commander of the Order of the British Empire”. Britain’s history of colonialism oversaw atrocities such as massacring and the establishment of concentration camps; the country’s honours system should not be harking back to the Empire.

The political point

Regarding the constitutional role of the Monarch, it is often said that the Queen’s “political neutrality” undermines any fear of the Crown being involved in the political process. However, it is untrue to say that the Crown has no influence on the legislative process. The recent headlines, as already referred to, demonstrate the point. At the beginning of November it was reported that Prince Charles campaigned to alter climate-change agreements in a way that would benefit a Bermuda company in which his estate had invested[2]. The claim of the Royals’ political neutrality is thus hard to maintain.

The economic point

Finally, supporters of the Royal family argue that the Monarchy is economically beneficial for the country because of the tourism that it brings in. However, such supporters presuppose that all of this tourism would be lost if the Monarchy was abolished. This is difficult to believe – indeed, last year around 7.4 million people[3] visited Le Louvre (where the French monarchy used to reside) and this site continues to be one of the most famous in the world.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/27/queens-income-rises-to-82m-to-cover-cost-of-buckingham-palace-works

[2] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41901175

[3] http://presse.louvre.fr/7-3-million-visitors-to-the-louvre-in-2016/

Breaking down Brexit

Anyone with some sort of political acumen has an opinion on the primary issue dominating British politics, Brexit. It has hard to employ the word in any sort of discourse or context without feelings of dismay ascending, either because of the lies or connotations that come by implication to the word, these obviously include identity, nationalism and immigration. Whether or not one is a Brexiter, the issue has become heavily polluted, however the thing that I find most infuriating and most dangerous is that the EU debate, held over a year ago, was devoid of any holistic examination about the implications and consequences of the United Kingdom’s potential exit from the European Union. Only now are we seeing the consequences of this, as Prime Minister May struggles to gain any sort of traction in her quest to depart the institution.

Firstly, it needs to be acknowledged that the EU are a bureaucratic and aristocratic panel of unelected and undemocratic, sovereign representatives, existing purely to satisfy and satiate cooperate interests. They are largely responsible for the centralisation of capital and wealth in Europe and the West and have contributed to the dearth of progress in developing counties. Yet, despite this very sufficient ineptitude, the argument most heavily proliferated against the EU has been related to immigration. This may be a question for another debater article, but are there deeper structural powers at play here? Because, surely, if the EU’s politics was the problem, then the aforementioned reason would be a more prudent and politically legitimate issue to raise.

Moving on however, by implication of the EU’s political sovereignty, the EU are integral to every part of British infrastructure. As Britain continues to establishes it self as a champion of the single market, propositioned by the EU, essential facets of British society engrosses itself into the EU’s remit. This includes the foundations of society’s structures; trains, buildings, planning regulations all go through procurement processes laid down by the EU and this is essential to Britain’s economy in both a financial and functionality capacity. The importance of this is evidence, yet it begs the question, why was this not mentioned in the debate?

Furthermore, the EU is heavily engrossed in Britain’s research assembly. This is again by implication of having a political system that is so heavily engrossed into the EU’s productivity The UK is one of the largest recipients of research funding from the EU. Over the period 2007 to 2013 the UK received €8.8 billion out of a total of the €107 billion expenditure available to research, development and innovation in EU Member States, associated and third countries. This represents the fourth largest share in the EU. In terms of funding awarded on a competitive basis in the period 2007 – 2013, the UK was the second largest recipient after Germany, securing €6.9 billion out of a total of €55.4 billion. Why again, was this not mentioned in the debate?

 

Then finally, economics. Through access to the single market, London has been able to attract institutional and corporate investment from Europe and beyond these shores. Why again, was this not mentioned in the debate? Conversely, on a different dynamic, with an estimated population of 8,615,246 residents, London is the most populous region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. London generates approximately 22% of the UK’s GDP, with 41,000 private sector businesses based in London (at the start of 2013). The lack of economic, political and opportunistic devolution in the UK is indicative of the EU’s operational structure. The single market is the most lucrative version of itself in a centralised system where money, labour and politics transpires in the same space, because investors would rather invest in one super-economy with extravagant returns (London), than invest in a split of many healthy economies around where the returns may be more stable but less spectacular. This surely, like my first elucidation, is a far more prudent argument to make against the EU, than a largely fabricated narrative about immigration (which I will clarify in another debater article).

Conclusively, the thing that I am most trying to infer here is that the current format of political destitution and reporting, from both the politicians and the media, needs renovation. In the context of Brexit; the state of political analysis was repugnant. The aforementioned issues, that both highlights the advantages and disadvantages of being an EU member state, was largely ignored and a narrative manifested itself that seemed to purely oppose the establishment or at least a perception of an establishment. Is politics not supposed to be about creating a better society? Well you could have fooled me!

The Harvey Weinstein Culture

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched on silently at the news concerning Harvey Weinstein, frustrated and disgusted yet equally unsurprised. The world appeared aghast. Harvey Weinstein isn’t the first of his kind. And the type of behaviour he displayed was and is not uncommon in a multitude of industries, ones I have worked in myself before.  Whatever the industry, there will always be a Harvey Weinstein. What we need is to eradicate the culture, to lose the phrase “it happens”. Our work starts there. The moment we refuse to accept it at the norm, that’s the point at which we can begin to work on eradicating it altogether. There are far too many cases of sexual harassment forgotten about, never mentioned, never reported, slipped under the rug.

The fact is, that despite being 2017 and all the progress we’ve made in a number of areas, we’ve also regressed. If a woman speaks out about sexual harassment in the workplace, it is HER that is looked upon unfavourably and it is HER that is feared for all the wrong reasons. Fear that she may cause an embarrassing lawsuit of some kind. But wait a second, what about the sexual predator that harassed her in the first place? Are we forgetting we have greater reason to be afraid of him?

There are laws in place to protect exactly the type of behaviour that women were subjected to by Weinstein, yet when women seek protection through such laws, they are often denied it and subsequently ostracised.

To be a feminist, you’ll agree, you don’t need to stand up on a pillar, wave about your flag and rant and complain about men. You just, at times like these, need to be brave enough to stand up for yourself. To recognise that the world isn’t defined by what some men who hold the most senior positions in certain industries believe; that the only way you can be successful is to respond positively to their sexual advancements. Your sexuality, your beauty, the way you dress, all of these things are not and should not be the reason for your promotion. Dress to power dress, not to please.

Yes, the world rallied round all the women who were mistreated by Harvey Weinstein. But the point is not support in the aftermath. Its the fact that the world and the film industry allowed this to happen in the first place! Your actions would have greater impact in the moment. If something isn’t right, doesn’t feel right, doesn’t seem fair, I urge you not to be afraid to just at the very least make clear your basic human rights. As a woman, I am disappointed that we are still not yet being completely valued for our achievements and instead are seen in almost tunnel-vision fashion; as sexual objects. Rather than as remarkable individuals, with the power to achieve and to be successful in whatever we may desire. But I am equally, if not, more disappointed, as a human being, that we are letting one another down. More than 50 women have come forward about Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Its 2017, this is just not acceptable. Not acceptable in a world where we’ve come so far in terms of healthcare and protection and security. A world in which to become a vet, you require more than 5 different checks. And this is exactly the same world in which Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed over 50 women. How on earth did he slip the net? How could we, did we, let that happen? I ask you then, where is security, law and order, and protection when we need it most? It seems our own systems are failing us.

And the truth is, it starts with us. Failing to report something only serves to condone the behaviour of the likes of Harvey Weinstein. We are failing each other. Always speak up. No matter how frightening the situation, integrity can never be a bad thing.

Let’s not live in a world where we make reporting a sexual crime, or any crime for that matter, a taboo. We have worked hard to create the democratic, civilised society we live in today and as the years go on, it’s in real danger of slipping right through our fingers.